Blog

January 22nd, 2015

socialmedia_Jan20_CRegardless of the industry in which you operate, it’s undeniable that social media has become an essential platform for many businesses of all sizes to easily engage and interact with customers and potential customers, as well as boost visibility. But there’s more to social media than market reach and penetration and it can prove to be a powerful tool for driving dynamic business development too.

In most cases, a business development manager already has an idea of the kind of company with which to partner. Their next step is to contact that company via a phone call or email. However, this can be an unreliable way to reach out, especially when your potential partner has never heard of you. Social media speeds up this process by identifying the best person to contact, as well as determining if you have any mutual connections.

Simply put, social media lets you understand the background of different companies and gives you an idea of the different players involved, before you even engage in a dialogue. With this in mind, let’s take a look at four ways you can utilize information available on social media to enhance your business development success.

  1. Social media is an extra pair of eyes Social media allows you to see first-hand what potential partners, competitors, and customers are doing, which is a major asset when it comes to your business development and performance. This can also reveal business-relationship possibilities or even warn where it is best to stay away. It’s crucial to position yourself and your company as industry experts by sharing mind-blowing content as well as highlighting recent successes.
  2. There’s no universal message in social media The way people behave and connect across different social media platforms varies, therefore it is important to adjust accordingly. For instance, you might use Twitter to promote ongoing marketing campaigns, share content, and direct customer service requests. You may use Facebook for larger marketing initiatives, such as showcasing a company’s culture and resources. It’s important to remember that there’s no universal rule to utilizing social media and that it is beneficial to be flexible. Think about what your individual goals are and work out which social media platform is the best avenue to explore.
  3. Leverage employee relationships If you’re looking to connect with an individual in a specific company, make it a habit to check and see if anyone in your company has a pre-existing relationship with that person. Social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn make it fairly easy to spot mutual connections, so it is a good idea to get into the habit of checking. Whether you ask your colleague to help make an introduction or to arrange a meeting, a mutual connection gives you the competitive edge in effective business development.
  4. Use social media as a touchpoint Social media is not only essential to business development, but also complements other more traditional practices, such as when you’ve sent an email or voicemail to a business prospect that has gone unanswered. It’s understandable that people get so busy they can delay, forget or pass over an inquiry, but instead of passively waiting for a reply, why not make it standard practice to follow up separately via LinkedIn or other social media platforms? This way you can build additional opportunities with potential partners, increase the likelihood of a response, and even forge a future business relationship.
The fundamentals of business development are strong relationships with a partner or companies with a good reputation, who will have a positive impact on your business, such as marketing an initiative collaboratively. Social media can get this whole process started, so the next time you’re looking to contact a business prospect or potential partner, start by visiting their social media channels to get the heads up to help you in your quest.

Looking to learn more about the benefits of social media in business? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
January 21st, 2015

Facebook_Jan20_CYou just got a message from an old friend via Facebook. You log on to view it, and suddenly you're bombarded with selfies from high school friends you haven't seen in years and photos of one of your employee’s lunch. Before you know it, you've wasted a half hour of your life caught up in the lives of people you rarely speak to. And you still haven’t even gotten to that message from your actual friend. If this frustrating scenario sounds all too familiar, it’s time to take a look at these five tricks to clean up your Facebook News Feed.

1. Become good friends with the "Unfollow" button

If you haven't heard, there's this amazing little tab that instantly allows a person to disappear from your News Feed. It's called the "Unfollow" tab, and you'll soon become best buddies with it.

Don't worry though, when you unfollow someone, you’re not unfriending him or her. And they'll never even know you did it (unless you tell them). It just keeps their TMI and updates about visiting the grocery store out of your feed.

To unfollow a person, click on the drop-down arrow in the top right corner of whomever's post and click "Unfollow [Name]"

An alternative option is to visit said person's profile and click on the "Following" button at the bottom-right corner of their cover photo. Once you click, it will change from "Following" to "Follow." Goodbye happy hashtag Sarah. #solongSarah #won'tbemissed

2. Avoid content from Facebook Pages

What if you don't want to unfollow someone but are sick of all the links they share? Not a problem. No more seeing surveys from Anotherdumbsurvey.net about which Hunger Games character you are or what baked good best describes your personality.

If you want to say goodbye to a page's content you're not interested in, click on that same top-right arrow in the upper right hand corner of the post and hit the "Hide all from [Page Name]" option.

3. Tell Facebook what posts annoy you

Sometimes you need to speak directly to the Facebook gods. Maybe you’re tired of seeing all those Facebook check ins, event spam, and baby pictures of little Tommy’s first experience eating cake...

To stop seeing posts you're not interested in, hit that same drop-down arrow and select "I don't want to see this." In theory, and if you do it enough times to the same type of content, this should put an end to all those baby updates for good.

4. Complete a Facebook survey

Yes, they do exist. And well, they kind of seem to work. We've tested this feature out, and it appears that some of the more spammy/annoying posts have disappeared. So back to the top-right arrow we go.

Click on it and the very last option is "Take a survey to make News Feed better." You'll click through 15 screenshots and rate how much they look like an advertisement.

5. Adjust your News Feed preferences

At the top of your home page is a little arrow that, when clicked on, shows you the option to choose your "News Feed Preferences." When you open it, you'll see the content you’ve viewed most and what you're currently following. Opt out of what you don’t want to see anymore.

Don’t get sucked into the online lives of people you rarely see in real life. Take action and control your News Feed today. If you're looking to learn more about Facebook and its features, contact us and learn how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Facebook
January 20th, 2015

AppleMacOS_Jan16_CDespite Macs being full of shortcuts and tricks and tools to speed up your work processes, we all know how easy it is to fall out of the habit of using them and instead to go back to our old habits. Yet with the New Year comes the perfect opportunity to get back on top of your game and put all those shortcuts to good use in using your Mac to ease work pressures. Speed up, wise up and clean up with these productivity-boosting Mac hacks.

Make searching easier

Need to hunt down a file? You can make the process easier by not searching for just one word, or even a series of words in sequence, but by instead searching for a logical combination of terms as a Boolean expression. Boolean expressions combine search terms with conditions like ‘and’, ‘or’ and ‘not’ to specify whether you want results that contain all, or only some, of your search terms. These expressions are supported by native Mac apps including Spotlight, Mail and Calendar, and by plenty of third-party apps too.

For instance, if you wanted to track down client invoices that have not yet been marked as paid, you might begin by searching for files containing the word ‘invoice’. This term alone would bring up plenty of results you had no interest in, but by using a Boolean expression which takes the terms ‘and’, ‘or’ and ‘not’ to create a logical statement, you could run a search for ‘invoice NOT paid’.

Protect your passwords

We’ve all heard the recommendation that our passwords should be long, difficult to guess and full of unnatural-feeling characters like mixed-case letters, numbers and punctuation - easier said than put into practice. Add to that the fact that, if we want to be truly secure, we shouldn’t use the same password for more than one account, and suddenly creating hack-roof passwords becomes a real challenge. Even once you’ve invented them, how on earth are you supposed to remember all of these different passwords?

Well, there’s an app for that. Or several, to be precise - the Apple-specific iCloud Keychain syncs your passwords across your devices and then fills them in when necessary, remembering what you can’t. On other operating systems, 1Password and LastPass are good alternatives.

Simplify your coding

Does your day-to-day work involve writing of some kind? You can make your job simpler by forgetting often difficult to read HTML code in favour of much friendlier, more attractive and easier to work with Markdown code. Based on plain text, Markdown is compatible with almost all word processors, meaning you don’t need to worry about using a specific text editor for fear of risking the corruption of your code. Simplified codes, such as Marketing to create a hyperlink, are transformed into formatted documents by a converter that takes the effort out of writing.

Numerous versions of Markdown have expanded upon the original idea to add additional features and bring further design richness to your finished document, but all of them offer the basics you’ll need to produce in your writing. Examples of apps that act as dedicated Markdown editors are Marked 2, iA Writer and Editorial.

If you’re looking to learn more about productivity tips or other Mac features, get in touch today and see what we can do to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple Mac OS
January 14th, 2015

GoogleApps_Jan12_CFor all its benefits in modern communication, we all know how easy it can be to give too much time over to email - and for a small business owner, that is time that could be better spent increasing sales and improving your bottom line. If you feel like a slave to email, 2015 might be the time to shake things up - and these productivity hacks for Gmail will help you do that.

Customize your email address and harness filters

Did you know that, if you use Gmail, you can customize your existing email address? Whether you have a regular @gmail.com or @company.com address, you can adjust your username depending on who you are giving it to and what you are likely to receive. For example, if your basic address is theboss@company.com, you could give theboss+friends@company.com to friends and use theboss+blog@company.com to invite blog comments.

Combine this feature with Gmail’s native filters to add labels to emails depending on which address they are sent to - so you can keep work and play separate, or file blog comments to deal with at a set time. Don’t want to see Facebook email notifications? Change your profile to use the email address theboss+spam@company.com and set up a filter to direct those messages to the trash. Your email is compartmentalized and you can see what you need to, when you really need to.

Can frequent responses to save time

Do you get similar email enquiries every day? If you currently pen a fresh reply to each message that arrives, then kick that habit right now and save yourself a heap of time. Gmail’s built in Canned Responses function allows you to store messages that you frequently send so they are ready to use at the touch of a button.

Enable Canned Responses from the Labs tab of the Gmail settings page, then when composing a new message just click the arrow icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen and select Canned Responses. From here you can use an existing canned response or add a new one. Then just hit send!

Schedule emails and reminders with Boomerang

The Boomerang add-on, which comes as a web extension for Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers and as an Android app, enables you to bounce new emails right out of your inbox and schedule their return when it suits you. The emails are stored remotely, freeing you up to concentrate on more urgent tasks.

Likewise, if you need to send one or more emails at a specific time but won’t be at your desk, with Boomerang you can schedule the emails in advance to send automatically when you need them to. You can also put this feature to use to schedule emails to send to yourself that act as task reminders.

Quick question? Chat instead

Don’t underestimate the value of Gmail’s chat system, or Hangouts as it is known in the age of Google+. Save yourself the time spent composing a long-form email, and the back-and-forth of conversation between recipients, by penning a brief chat message when you just need to ask a question.

Chances are too that colleagues will be less daunted by an instant message than an email, and more likely to respond right away than put it off. Hangouts need not be limited to one-to-one conversations - to start a group chat, open a chat with one colleague and then click the stick person icon beneath their name. You’ll see a list of contacts that you can add to the conversation.

Treat your email like a relay race

Of course, the best way to save time on email is to limit the amount of time you spend on it - one great way is by using the browser extension Mail Timer. This nifty add-on allows you to set yourself a maximum amount of time - say two minutes - to respond to each email. After that, a pop-up message will let you know you’re out of time and encourage you to continue to your next message. Not only will Mail Timer train you to be more concise in crafting emails, but it is a great way to get into the habit of swiftly clearing your inbox of messages that only need a brief reply - you can archive others to deal with at a set time (or use Boomerang to bring them back automatically when it suits you).

If you would like to learn more about using Gmail, or any other Google app, please get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 14th, 2015

Security_Jan12_CThe scale of the recent security breaches at Sony, which led to the cancellation of The Interview’s theatrical release of, can make the company’s problems seem beyond the realm of the average small business. But the security mishaps that created the circumstances for the hack are as applicable to modest local and regional companies as they are to multimillion dollar corporations. These three tips will take you back to security basics and help avert your own big-screen drama.

Don’t let basic security habits slip

Our modern-day instinct tells us that the answer to potential security breaches is to install new layers of Antivirus software, firewalls and further encryption systems. While these are all worthy additions to your company’s armor of security shields, they will do little to help if good old-fashioned protective habits are allowed to slide.

Instill a disciplined, security-conscious mentality in your organization, and keep the messages simple so that staff remember and follow them. Focus on regularly changing passwords and keeping them secret, being vigilant about avoiding unexpected links in email messages, and limiting network access for the likes of external contractors to that which is absolutely necessary.

One of the ways hackers made their way into the Sony network was by tricking administrators into thinking they had a legitimate need for access: teach your staff to be careful, and praise cautiousness even if it turns out access is warranted. Encourage staff to flag up potential security lapses, and make sure they know that reports will be followed up and loopholes closed.

Take a flexible and agile approach to IT

IT changes, and so do the ways best suited to keeping it safe. This means it is vitally important to keep your IT systems up to date, and where necessary to do away with outdated practices that could leave your business technology exposed. This involves more than just ensuring that your network is running updated Antivirus software to catch the latest bugs and worms - it means staying abreast of emerging methods to mitigate potential threats from hackers worldwide.

All of this uses staff and resources that your small business might not have - which is where outsourced managed services come in. Using a managed service provider as an add-on to your own IT team can give you extra flexibility and the ability to keep abreast of industry security developments, even when you lack the time to do so yourself.

Equally, know when it is time to ditch data - think of emerging social networks like Snapchat, which set messages to self-destruct after a set time, as your cue to make your data retention policy less permanent, particularly in relation to email. If you no longer have a business need or a regulatory requirement to retain information, then delete it - in the process you can limit the possible damage even if the worst should occur and you fall victim to an external attack.

Backup, backup, backup

The last thing you want in the event of a security breach is for it to hit your day-to-day operations - the potential damage caused by the hack itself is likely to give you enough to worry about. But that is exactly the situation Sony found itself in after its latest hack, with its email system down and staff forced to return to the days of pen, paper and even the fax machine.

As well as ensuring alternative means of communication remain open to your business in the aftermath of a possible attack, it is also vital to make sure that you retain access to the information most critical to your work. Regular, secured backups help ensure that, whatever happens, the show is able to go on and your firm’s productivity and revenue are not unduly hit. Engaging professionals to undertake your backups on a managed service basis also means this can happen routinely and without fail, while you stay focused on running your business.

Want to learn more about how to reduce your IT network’s vulnerability to attack? Get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
January 13th, 2015

iPad_Jan12_CWorking with two computer screens can prove to be quite useful in speeding up work processes and boosting efficiency and productivity. And while many people might not want to incur the expense of a large external monitor, or might lack the space for the addition, you no longer have to do so if you have an iPad.

Duet Display, developed by a former Apple engineer, Rahul Dewan, will turn your iPad into an external screen for your Mac, and does so using a cable that you already use to charge and sync your iPad. To be precise, it’s actually two apps — one for your iOS device and a companion app for your Mac that lets it recognize an iPad or iPhone as a second screen.

How does Duet Display work?

  1. Download Duet Display from the Apple Store for $14.99
  2. Install Duet Display for OS X
  3. Duet Display will add a little settings icon to the right side of your menu bar and requires a password when you’re installing it on your Mac. This is because the app needs to install display drivers.
  4. Open the Duet Display app on your iPad and plug it into your Mac with a lightning cable (or a 30-pin cable if you’ve got an older iPad that’s still supported).
  5. Now you can enjoy working with two screens!
Because your iPad is plugged in, you won’t have to worry about your iPad’s battery. And while you’re using Duet Display on the iPad, you’ll still get your regular iOS notifications. You can also set your computer to use all the pixels on your iPad’s Retina display (2,048x1,536 pixel resolution), or you can set your iPad to regular resolution too. Duet Display works with all Macs running on OS X Yosemite and any iPads or iPhones running iOS 5.1.1 or above, meaning it will work with your old iPad. The only downside is you can only connect a single iOS device for now.

The growing number of applications in the App Store means there are often new ways to make use of your iPad being introduced. Looking to learn more about the iPad and its capabilities? Contact us and see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPad
January 8th, 2015

googleapps_Dec26_CChances are high, that as a business owner and/or manager, you have a lengthy and difficult-to-keep-track-of to-do list. There is always going to be some task or project that needs your attention, and being pulled in so many directions at once can be tough to manage. If you use Gmail, however, there is a great feature - Google Tasks - and it could help you keep on top of what you need to get done.

What is Google Tasks?

Google Tasks is a sub-feature included in all versions of Gmail. As the name suggests, its main function is to allow you to set up tasks directly in Gmail. With this feature you can create itemized lists, set due dates, add notes, and create tasks directly from Gmail messages.

When you use this feature, you will see a chat-like window appear at the bottom-right of the screen. The window looks and functions a lot like a Hangouts chat in that you can minimize it and even pop it out of the Gmail window.

How to use Google Tasks

As we noted above, Google Tasks is a feature of Gmail, and can be accessed by:
  1. Going to your Gmail Inbox.
  2. Pressing on Mail which is located at the top-left side of the window.
  3. Selecting Tasks from the drop-down menu.
When you do this, you should notice the Tasks window open at the bottom-right of the screen, beside any open chats or emails you may be composing. Once you have opened this you can add a new task by clicking on the + at the bottom right, or by clicking in any blank area in the window. You should then notice a square box appear with a blinking cursor beside it. You can then enter the task you would like to make note of.

Once a task is finished you can tick the box beside it and it will be struck through, indicating it has been completed. You can then click on it and press the trash can icon at the bottom to delete the task from your list.

Other useful Google Tasks features

  • Create sub-tasks - If you want to create a task with sub-tasks, simply create each task normally and then hit Tab to indent tasks so that they are identified as sub-tasks. Hit Shift + Tab to move any indented tasks to the left.
  • Add a due date and notes - Click on a task and then click on the black arrow to the right of the task to assign a due date and add any notes.
  • Create new lists - Create multiple lists by clicking on the list icon at the bottom-right of the window and selecting New list.
  • Move tasks up or down the list - To change the priority of a task, hover your mouse over the square beside the task name and click on the grey dots, then drag the task up or down.
  • Email a task list - You can send a task list to other Gmail users by selecting the list you want to send, then clicking Actions at the bottom of the window, followed by Email task list.
If you would like to learn more about using Google Tasks, or any other Google app please get in touch with us today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Google Apps
January 6th, 2015

osx_Dec25_CLooking back at it, 2014 was a great year for Apple. From the iPhone 6 to iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, along with other new products, there were many useful products and systems introduced. Now it is time to look forward to 2015 and what tech developments we might benefit from in the year ahead. Here are five changes we expect from Apple in the foreseeable future.

1. Apple focuses more on business solutions

Early in 2014, Apple announced that they would be entering a long-term partnership with enterprise giant IBM. The idea behind this was that Apple would work with IBM to develop a better way to bring mobile solutions to businesses and whole industries.

Up until now there has been little announced beyond this initial partnership. However, you can expect that both IBM and Apple are working on big developments that could debut in 2015. One indicator of this is the way many Apple products, mobile devices especially, are being integrated into businesses. Most devices, like the iPad, enter the business via an employee bringing them to the office (BYOD), and using their own device for work.

While this has worked well for many companies, the business side (apps, marketing, company-wide management, etc.) has largely been lacking or unsupported. It is a fair belief to think that Apple will continue to develop products in 2015, but leverage the IBM partnership to make devices easier to use and integrate into business; while also taking advantage of IBM's wide industry expertise to launch industry-specific apps and services.

2. A larger iPad

Rumors started to fly about Apple developing a larger iPad for release some time in 2015. The word is that they are working on a 12.9 inch device that is supposedly being targeted to be a replacement for low-end PC's small netbooks. This device could be great for businesses, especially those with employees who are on the road a lot, or who work directly with clients. Think about it: A highly portable tablet with enough screen space to run most apps, combined with a subscription to Office 365 or Google Apps, with a possible keyboard case. It could very well be a great solution for many businesses.

We can't say when, or 100% for sure if this device will be released, but signs and rumors are pointing to a likely launch in 2015.

3. Apple Watch

This prediction is pretty much a no-brainer, largely because it has already been announced. Scheduled to be released in the spring of 2015, the Apple Watch should be the wearable of the year. Like most other Apple products, this will no doubt be a popular product with high demand from the domestic market.

At this time however, it really doesn't look like there will be much use for this product for businesses for the time being. Sure, it provides a convenient way to interact with your phone, but many businesses will likely see it as more of a distraction than a help. That being said, some employees will probably purchase one privately so you do need to aware of this device, especially when it comes to your BYOD program and it the device is used for business activities.

4. An incremental update to the iPhone

With 2014 seeing the release of both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple brought some high-powered devices to the market that were a big step over even the iPhone 5. In 2015, Apple will likely have a hard time outdoing the iPhone 6, so will likely introduce a small update to the phone instead.

This version will probably have an improved processor and some small improvements that will make the phone a little more competitive, with other devices released in the coming year. We don't however expect an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus this year.

5. A smaller update to OS X

The past two years have seen back-to-back big versions of OS X drop. The most recent version, Yosemite, was a new design introduced along with a number of new features that brought the desktop operating system closer to Apple's mobile operating system iOS.

In 2015 you can expect a new version of OS X to be unveiled and likely released, but we are pretty sure that it won't be as big of an update as the last two. From what Apple has said about these systems, it looks like most features introduced in the next version of OS X will bring the iOS and OS X even closer together.

We're curious to know what you would like to see from Apple in 2015. Let us know!. And, if you would like to learn more about implementing any existing Apple devices into your business, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple Mac OS
January 1st, 2015

hardware_Dec25_CAn antivirus scanner is one of the most essential parts of any security plan. These useful programs scan computers and systems for potential infections and get rid of them, ensuring your files and systems are safe. Because many of these protection programs are subscription based however, it can be easy to let the validity expire. If this does happen, is it really such a big deal though?

What happens when an antivirus subscription expires?

While each program will treat an expired subscription slightly different, generally speaking, most will still function in some way. You will normally be able to run a scan, but you likely won't be able to deal with any malware or security threats. Features like automated scanning will also be turned off.

Other programs will stop updating the essential virus and malware databases that are used by the program to identify and clean new malware. This means that while you will be secure from known viruses and security flaws up to the date of the last database update, you will not be secure against newly discovered viruses.

Some popular programs like Kaspersky offer an antivirus scanner trial version or a program that comes with a newly purchased computer.With programs like these, they will normally stop functioning once the trial period is over. Yes, they will still open, but you won't be able to scan or perform any tasks.

In short, when your subscription expires, your systems will no longer be secure, or as protected as they should be. Interestingly enough, in mid-November 2014, Microsoft released its Security Intelligence Report 17. This report found that computers and systems with expired malware were only slightly less likely to be infected than systems without any malware scanners installed.

What do I do if my subscription is about to expire?

Before your subscription expires you should take steps to back up all of your systems and data. The reason for this is that should something happen you have a clean backup to revert to. Once this is carried out, then consider renewing your subscription. Most programs allow you to do this directly from the scanner itself, so it is often fairly straightforward.

As a business owner however, you are going to need to keep track of your systems and licenses. What we recommend is creating a spreadsheet with information on the subscription applied to all systems. Take account of when the scanner was installed on each system, how long the subscription period is for, and when it will expire.

What if my subscriptions are about to expire, but I don't like my current program?

There may come a time when the scanner you have selected simply isn't living up to your expectations. Maybe it takes too long to scan, uses too many resources, or simply isn't able to protect all of your systems. Regardless of the reason, switching scanners is always an option.

If you are thinking of moving to another scanner, we strongly recommend that before you do anything, you back up your systems. You can then start looking for other systems. We strongly recommend that you contact us, as we can help identify a solution that will work for your business and systems. We can then help ensure that the transition is carried out in a way that will not leave your systems open to attack.

We may have a managed antivirus solution that will work for your business. By using a system like this, we can help protect your systems, keeping them secure and always up to date, all without you having to get involved. All you need to do is get in touch to find our more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
December 31st, 2014

security_dec24_CWhen looking into the ways companies are hacked, you quickly realize that there are so many different tactics out there that it is mind-boggling. One of the more effective methods used recently is spear phishing, and in early December 2014, a new spear phishing attack was uncovered. This threat, while directed at larger organizations, could be turned against smaller businesses as well, and is therefore worth you knowing about.

What is spear phishing?

Spear phishing is an advanced form of phishing where attackers troll the Internet for relevant information about you and then create a personalized email that is sent to you. This email is usually developed so that it appears to be coming from a friend or trusted partner and contains links to a site or program that can initiate an attack or steal information.

More often than not, these links are to websites where you enter account information, passwords, and even bank account details, or any other personal information which can be used to break into computers and even steal your identity.

What is this latest spear phishing attack?

This new form of spear phishing, being carried out by an organization who calls themselves FIN4, has actually been around since as early as mid 2013. When they attack Wall Street listed companies they are doing so to steal valuable plans and insider information.

What we know is that they send highly savvy and targeted emails to people at a company, trying to harvest Microsoft Outlook account information. Once they have this crucial data they then target others inside, or connected to, the organization, with the same email, while also injecting the code into ongoing messages. This method can spread the attack quickly, leading to a potentially massive security breach.

In the email examples of this phishing threat, the attackers write mainly about mergers and other highly valuable information. They also include a link to a forum to discuss the issues raised further. These emails come from people the recipient already knows, and the link is to a site that asks them to enter their Outlook account and password before gaining access. When this information is entered, it is captured by the attacker and used to launch more attacks.

What can we do to protect our systems?

From what we know, this attack is being carried out largely against law firms, finance companies, and other large organizations. While this discounts many small businesses, there is a good chance that the attackers will turn to small businesses operating with larger companies at some point.

Because this is an email-based attack, you need to be extra vigilant when opening all emails. Be sure to look at the sender's address, and read the body of the email carefully. While hackers generally have good English skills, they aren't fully fluent, which means you will notice small mistakes. Also, keep in mind previous emails sent by the recipient. If the tone and style is off, then the email may be fake.

It is important to always look carefully at all links in email messages. If a link looks suspicious, then ask the recipient for more information or to tell you where the link goes. If you come across any site asking you to enter account information, be extra careful. Look at the URL address in your browser, if it doesn't sat HTTPS:// before the address, then it may be a good idea to avoid this.

If you have any questions on spear phishing and how you can prevent it, contact us today to see how we can protect your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security